Introduction By Terri Aversa
You’ve likely heard that the budget bill 127 contains proposed amendments to WSIA—ie like recognizing chronic mental stress in line with the Charter challenges, other legal cases, and all our lobbying.
However we need to look beyond the gift horse to look at some other troubling amendments being proposed within that bill.
Other amendments propose to legislatively allow WSIB to make policies about how to interpret and apply the Act, establish evidentiary requirements, and set out adjudicative principles. The WSIB’s policies are binding on the Tribunal. So these amendments would give the WSIB increased power to control the Tribunal’s decision making. Injured worker representatives are very concerned that the WSIB would use this increased policy-making power to restrict benefits both for chronic mental stress and for any other conditions. The WSIB has been on a benefit-cutting spree for several years now. Giving it more power over the Tribunal is scary …
The ombudsman complaint made by the IW community alleges that the WSIB is acting illegally and not in tandem with the WSIA. The Fink lawsuit alleges “malfeasance” of the WSIB in that it is allegedly doing things (like influencing doctor opinions) contrary to the Act. Well wouldn’t these amendments if allowed—just make its current practices within the law, ie make it LEGAL for the WSIB to have these horrible practices and adjudicative rules as part of the LAW so as to neutralize any allegations that they are outside of the law?
Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2017
The Bill implements measures contained in the 2017 Ontario Budget and enacts, amends and repeals various Acts. Included are the major elements of the Bill regarding the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Please visit http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=4778 for all elements of the Bill.
WORKPLACE SAFETY AND INSURANCE ACT, 1997
The Schedule makes various amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
Section 13 of the Act is amended to provide that a worker is entitled to benefits under the insurance plan for chronic or mental stress arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. A worker is not entitled to benefits for mental stress caused by decisions or actions of the worker’s employer relating to the worker’s employment, including a decision to change the work to be performed or the working conditions, to discipline the worker or to terminate the employment.
Section 43 of the Act, which governs payments for loss of earnings is amended. New rules that provide for the method of determining amounts payable for full and partial loss of earnings are enacted, and transitional matters are provided for.
Amendments are made to sections 46 and 48 of the Act to update the dollar amounts used to calculate compensation for a worker’s non-economic loss and death benefits payable upon the death of a worker.
Section 51 of the Act is amended to provide that certain amounts adjusted under that section are not invalid.
Section 110 of the Act, which governs the application of the pre-1997 Act in certain circumstances, is amended to provide that certain limits on the amount of a permanent partial disability supplement do not apply to the supplement as adjusted annually. The section is also amended to provide that certain reductions on amounts payable do not apply in certain circumstances.
Finally, section 159 of the Act is amended to provide the Board with the power to establish policies concerning the interpretation and application of the Act, and concerning requirements and principles to be applied when establishing entitlement to benefits.